Mark Chernoff’s final run as program director of WFAN may be coming to an end in the near future, but the longtime PD of New York’s dominant sports radio station is making sure that when he passes the baton, he’s turning over a well oiled machine with strong ratings success to whoever follows him.
The Winter Book results were released today in the big apple, and the headline that will generate the most attention throughout the industry was Craig Carton and Evan Roberts unseating The Michael Kay Show for the top spot in afternoon drive according to the Nielsen Audio ratings. ‘Carton & Roberts’ finished 3rd overall with Men 25-54 with a 5.3 share, holding off Kay’s program, which finished 4th with a 4.8. Those numbers take into account both the over the air, and streaming numbers (combined audience) for both brands. The winter book reflects the ratings generated by both stations between January 7th and March 31st.
The win was an important one for the WFAN afternoon duo. It was their first full book together and it reversed a trend that saw Kay enjoy previous success against Roberts and his former partner Joe Benigno. Carton and Roberts did team up for part of the Fall 2020 book, but because they started their show on November 9th, they weren’t responsible for most of the quarter’s performance.
One additional point worth sharing, Kay’s program, which previously started at 3pm ET, has since moved up an hour to 2pm ET. That means during the spring book, we’ll see the two shows battling for audience during similar time periods. The reason that’s important, 98.7 ESPN NY got crushed during the 2pm hour in this book. Carton & Roberts smoked Max Kellerman’s national show 9.0 to 2.1, leaving Kay with ground to make up. Regardless, Carton & Roberts did what they had to do, they put WFAN back in the win column in PM drive.
In middays, WFAN had to be satisfied with the performance turned in by Marc Malusis and Maggie Gray. The midday team placed 2nd overall with a 5.9 share from 10a-2p ET. During that same period, 98.7 ESPN NY received a 2.4, 16th place finish from Mike Greenberg, and a 2.9, 12th place showing from Bart Scott & Alan Hahn.
Closing things out in mornings, the WFAN powerhouse team of ‘Boomer & Gio’ led the market once again, finishing 1st overall with a 7.6. Their performance was the best of WFAN’s weekday programs for the quarter. The mixture of ESPN Radio’s ‘Keyshawn, J-Will & Zubin’, and 98.7 ESPN NY’s trio of Rick DiPietro, Chris Canty, and Dave Rothenberg came in 17th between 6a-10a with a 2.6 share.
For WFAN, this has to feel good, because it’s what the station expected when it brought Carton back. Craig’s ability to create interest, entertainment, and conversation is unquestioned. The buzz around WFAN’s afternoon show has been very different because there’s a daily question of what Carton might do next. Craig’s skill combined with Evan’s insight and ability to adjust to the #2 chair, and show another side of himself that hadn’t been heard as much previously, has allowed the show to perform well, and the station to generate new momentum. With the lineup strong and in a consistent place, New York’s sports radio king is positioned to enjoy future wins.
On the other hand, 98.7 ESPN NY is paying a price for shaking up its lineup. The Michael Kay Show is still a force and has nothing to feel bad about or apologize for. Moving up an hour earlier should help them in trying to reverse the latest results, and given the show’s dynamic, they’re good enough to bounce right back next book. The bigger question is the rest of the lineup. Kay’s show is drastically outperforming everything else on 98.7’s airwaves. It does take time for new shows to connect with an audience, but national programs have always faced an uphill climb in New York City. Making matters worse, Carton & Roberts started in November and six months later they’re riding high. If ESPN New York can get their national shows to finish in the Top 10, they’d probably feel good about it because there’s money to be made if you’re ranking that high in market #1. If they continue to hover around 16th-20th though, that might create more discussions inside their Bristol and NYC offices.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at [email protected].
Boomer Esiason: Joe Benigno Was Just Doing His Job
“Good for Joe B. for letting everyone know who he is. That was his job. And I guess still is his job to some point.”
Former WFAN host Joe Benigno continues to make headlines after he revealed sensitive text messages he had with New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh. Despite the controversy, Boomer Esiason believes Benigno was simply doing what was necessary.
After Boomer & Gio played a clip of Saleh saying he “still likes Joe B.”, Esiason argued that Benigno was doing his job by revealing that Saleh “didn’t like” Jets quarterback Zach Wilson.
When fill-in update anchor Chris Lo Presti pointed out that Saleh wouldn’t call Benigno by name — referring to him as “Joe B.” — Esiason said “That’s cause everyone knows who he is”.
“Good for Joe B. for letting everyone know who he is,” Esiason said. “That was his job. And I guess still is his job to some point. But man, I would think that Rob Saleh was pretty floored by all of that, I’d imagine.”
Co-host Gregg Giannotti agreed, questioning if Jets owner Woody Johnson spoke to Saleh about ceasing texting with the former WFAN host.
After originally revealing the text messages, Benigno has shared he wishes he hadn’t mentioned the comments made by Saleh in private. He later clarified that he took the coach’s statements out of context and misinterpreted them.
Anthony Lima: People Will Watch NFL Games No Matter Who the Quarterbacks Are
“The ratings show that people are going to watch no matter who the quarterbacks are; no matter how bad the teams are.”
As the NFL begins week 14 with a Thursday Night Football matchup that pits a pair of backup quarterbacks against one another, 92.3 The Fan morning hosts Ken Carman and Anthony Lima agree it doesn’t matter who’s under center, fans will still be tuning in.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are slated to face the New England Patriots as Mitch Trubisky and Baily Zappe will start at quarterback for each team. During The Ken Carman Show with Anthony Lima Thursday, the hosts agreed they’ll still watch the broadcast.
“Do you think fans are bored by the league with this or are they more interested?,” Carman asked, referencing the Steelers-Patriots matchup.
“Well the ratings don’t show that,” Lima said. “The ratings show that people are going to watch no matter who the quarterbacks are; no matter how bad the teams are.”
Indeed for its Week 13 Thursday night game, Amazon Prime Video recorded an all-time high average of 15.26 million viewers, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. The matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys marked the 11th consecutive week of year-over-year, double-digit viewership growth for the property, and helped engender a 29% increase from last year’s 11-week average viewership.
Carman offered an analogy pertaining to wrestling, conveying how many people are interested in the sport when they are younger. He enjoyed the sport in his youth but it then began to phase out until he went to middle school and became interested again. These phases, however, do not seem to apply when it comes to the game of football.
“We line up for years,” Carman said of football. “There’s people who haven’t missed Monday Night Football no matter what incarnation [it is] for 30+ years. Is it an enjoyable thing to sell all the quarterbacks down?”
Lima is cognizant of what has happened at the quarterback position this year and feels that it makes him want to watch a game less, affirming that the starters on Thursday night will need to earn his attention.
“I think I’ll give it a quarter,” Lima said. “I might even be a little late… [but] I’ll put it on and see where the game’s at.”
Fred Toucher: What Did Joe Benigno Think Would Happen By Revealing Robert Saleh Texts?
“He’s on Zoom and he looks like he’s in his bedroom from like 1962. It looks like a little kid’s bedroom.”
Earlier this week, former WFAN host Joe Benigno raised eyebrows by revealing that New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh “doesn’t like” quarterback Zach Wilson. 98.5 The Sports Hub morning host Fred Toucher was dumbfounded by the entire situation.
During his morning show Thursday, Toucher questioned the motive behind Benigno sharing the text exchange, saying the former New York host “crossed the line” by revealing the coach’s texts.
“So what is it what is Joe Benigno thinks gonna happen? He comes on the air, he says he’s texting with Robert Saleh. He’s not lying,” said Toucher. “So if you’re Robert Saleh, you have this maniac old man texting you… You gotta be like ‘Alright dude, thanks. I shared with you my vulnerability and this is how you pay me back, you unempathetic prick. I expressed vulnerability to you, I showed you that I was concerned.'”
Fred Toucher did note that he actually likes Benigno and considers him a friend of the program, despite calling him a “psycho”.
“He’s an old guy. He’s a big-time Jets fan. Like, he loves the jets. Like really, really loves (the Jets),” Toucher said. “He’s on Zoom and he looks like he’s in his bedroom from like 1962. It looks like a little kid’s bedroom. There’s Jonathan Vilma jersey, it’s like tacked up hastily.”
Toucher concluded by noting he felt bad for Saleh, and hoped the revelation from Benigno didn’t cost him his job.
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